Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #75
CE Offered: BACB
School-based Functional Behavior Assessment and Intervention: Considerations for Research, Training, and Practice
Saturday, May 24, 2014
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
W194b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EDC; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jennifer L. Austin (University of South Wales)
Discussant: Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota)
CE Instructor: Jennifer L. Austin, Ph.D.

This symposium will present four topics related to school-based assessment and intervention, ranging from individualized analysis and intervention strategies to large-scale training. The first paper will examine how selective mutism can be effectively analyzed and treated with school-based intervention. The second paper will examine peers perceptions regarding the fairness of individualized reward programs for children with challenging behaviour. The third study will discuss a large-scale training initiative in Iowa, which aimed to improve the quality and quantity of pre-treatment assessments. The fourth presentation will provide a comprehensive review of the school-based functional assessment literature and provide several suggestions for future research areas.

Keyword(s): classrooms, FBA, school-based intervention, schools

Functional Analysis and Treatment of Selective Mutism

ADAM M. BRIGGS (The University of Kansas), Claudia L. Dozier (The University of Kansas), Jessica Foster (The University of Kansas), Louisa Hussein (The University of Kansas)

Selective mutism is a rare childhood disorder characterized by a persistent failure to speak under one or more environmental conditions despite speaking under other environmental conditions (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). If left untreated, selective mutism can limits opportunities for academic involvement and social interactions (Grover, Hughes, Bergman, & Kingery, 2006). The participant was a five-year-old typically developing child who rarely spoke in her preschool classroom; however, when she did it was typically one-word whispers. We developed a comprehensive methodology to assess the antecedent conditions (e.g., setting, familiarity of people present) under which vocal-verbal responses were unlikely to occur, and results showed that the presence of peers and number of peers present was the environmental variable influencing the non-occurrence of vocal-verbal behavior (i.e., answering questions using two or more words at conversation level). Based on these results, we implemented a stimulus-fading procedure in which we slowly increased the number of peers present. In addition, generalization probes were conducted to determine the point at which responding generalized to the classroom environment that contained approximately 20 peers. Results showed that the stimulus fading procedure was effective for increasing vocal-verbal responding and generalization to the typical classroom environment.


Examining Children's Perceptions of the Fairness of Behavior Programs and Rewards for Peers with Challenging Behaviour

JENNIFER L. AUSTIN (University of South Wales), Charlotta Watson (University of South Wales), Alexandra Sewell (Herefordshire Council)

One common concern among teachers is the degree to which such individualized reinforcement systems are fair to other children. The purpose of this study was to examine the degree to which peers noticed the individual programs designed for their peers and whether they believed those programs were fair or unfair. We interviewed 199 children across seven classrooms in five primary schools. In each classroom, one or more children engaged in challenging behavior that was deemed significant enough to warrant an individualized reinforcement or reward program. We found that most children did not report individualized reinforcement/reward systems for their peers, but rather focused on class-wide reinforcers that were differentially available to all pupils. When children did identify reinforcers/rewards for the target children, most children reported that these rewards were fair. We discuss these results in terms of variables that might influence childrens perceptions of rewards and directions for future research.


Improving School-Based Functional Behavior Assessments by Teaching Experimental Analyses

BRENDA J. BASSINGTHWAITE (The University of Iowa Children's Hospital), Michael Scheib (University of Southern Maine), John F. Lee (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Sean D. Casey (The Iowa Department of Education)

The Iowa Department of Education initiated a 5-year contract with behavior analysts at the University of Iowas Center for Disabilities and Development in the fall of 2009 to provide a statewide training program for challenging behavior teams who practice in school settings. Training was offered via didactic lectures (e.g., behavioral principles, behavior assessment) and by directly assessing students who were referred to the challenging behavior teams for engaging in a variety of challenging behaviors (e.g., work refusal, aggression, self-injurious behaviors). Training focused on designing, conducting, and interpreting preference assessments, functional analyses, antecedent analyses, and concurrent operants assessments. Trainees are using these assessments in their practice. During Year 4 of the contract, trainees reported that they conducted, on average, 11 preference assessments, 5 functional analyses, 3 antecedent analyses, and 3 concurrent operants assessments outside of training sessions. Functional behavior assessment summaries have been reviewed each year of the project. At the end of Year 1, 29% of the summaries included one of the taught assessments. At the end of Year 4, 89% of the summaries included one of the taught assessments. With the inclusion of these assessments, we are observing an improvement in the quality of functional behavior assessments.

Functional Analysis in School Settings: Current Status and Future Directions
CYNTHIA M. ANDERSON (Appalachian State University), Billie Jo Rodriguez (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Justin Boyd (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Functional analysis is increasingly used in schools to guide intervention development. To evaluate the research on functional analysis to date we conducted a comprehensive review of the literature. We defined functional analysis as experimental manipulation of two or more variables. Functional analysis has been reported for a total of 228 individuals in school settings. Methods of functional analysis used in schools include analog, brief, trial-based, experimental ABC and AB methods. We discovered that the method of functional analysis used varies greatly based on the population—traditional (Iwata et al., 1982/1994) functional analysis has been used almost exclusively with individuals with disabilities, as has brief functional analysis. ABC methods of functional analysis are used across populations relatively equally. Setting also varied based on method—most traditional functional analyses are conducted in isolated settings whereas other methods were conducted in classrooms at least occasionally. There are no demonstrations of school professionals leading the conduct of the functional analysis. We discuss recommendations for best practice and directions for future research.



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